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Category:Israel (1 Viewer)

wolfbirder

Well-known member
Southern Israel - Key Site Information

NOT a bird report but for new visitors, the following information might help. Even for repeat visitors, who knows it maybe a useful summary or reference.

From Tel Aviv Airport you initially follow signs for Jerusalem, then head south on Route 6 where you see signs for Be'er Sheva (Route 6), which links to 31 for Arad/Dead Sea and then onto 90 for Eilat, OR you link from 6 onto Route 40. A few people continue on Route 1 to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv Airport, and link to Route 90 at the northern tip of the Dead Sea in the Palestinian West Bank.

Study of an Southern Israel road map reveals that in fact virtually all good birding sites are close to two main roads that run from North to South, firstly Route 90 from the northern end of the Dead Sea all the way down through the Arava Valley to Eilat along its eastern side opposite Jordan, and secondly Route 40 that runs from Be-er Sheva down onto Route 12 to Eilat along its western border with Egypt. There are obviously other adjoining roads as well, as the easy but excellent road system runs through the famous Negev Desert that lies immediately south of Be'er Sheva.

The beauty of the Israeli road system is that there are KM marker posts, at each and every kilometre - well at least on main roads - so when there are no distinguishing features to the landscape, you still know where you are by reference to the KM markers, which you may well not need for signposted places, but many good birding spots are inevitably 'not' signposted.

Birding in Israel, as with anywhere, varies immensely according to time of year and is inevitably better during peak migration times, but it is also very good throughout winter months. In fact, birds can even then vary from day to day, such is the unpredictability of birding in Israel. So you will rarely connect with everything, so don't stress, just enjoy it. Nevertheless, information of key sites and pre-planning is absolutely critical to maximise good birding and help you get to as many good sites as possible whilst you are there. I hope this summary of key sites helps some people therefore, specifically regards access points to them, in a car. But do check Ebird, Observation.org, Steve Arlow's reports on cloudbirders.com, and www.birds.org.il/en for the latest news, even whilst you are there - I recommend you do this each evening so you do not miss great birds whilst you are there. Many reports on those 4 sites give precise OS points to find the birds once you have parked up, so they take you a step further. Also for the very latest information, and for target species or guiding, contact staff at IBRC through the last website given, before you travel.

Always securely keep your passport and small blue visa ticket with you just in case you are stopped by military, but they genuinely do not want to hassle travelling westerners. Always have plenty of water on you, snacks too, and make sure you always have half-a-tank full of petrol as petrol stations can be few and far between in remote areas.

So here we go, starting at EILAT in the deep, deep South: -

BIRDING SITES AROUND EILAT ITSELF

KM1 of Route 90 actually starts at the far south end of Eilat, past Dolphin Reef and South Beach, and close to the border with Egypt.

Sites within EILAT include the Eilat mountains (see Route 12 further below), as well as a few parks such as Holland Park (not really a park but a stretch of desert scrub on its perimeter), Ofira Park, Canada Park, and Central Park. The famous International Birdwatching Research Centre (IBRC) is located at the northern end of Eilat and is signposted at around km15 of 90- in effect you follow signs for IBRC and 'Border Crossing' (with Jordan) to get there, turn right immediately before the border crossing. Tracks from IBRC lead either southward to North Beach, or northward alongside 'Eilat North Plantation' where the track runs parallel to 90 but 'critically' provides access and leads to two excellent but unsignposted sites: -

KM19 Pool / cowsheds - the track from IBRC doesn't have KM markers but is accessible only from the track itself, running alongside 90 which is one-hundred metres away. You cannot access Km19 or km20 sites directly from Route 90 dual-carriageway (I am quite sure of this though could be wrong). Once you have been once, it is obvious. Doves / Pigeons abound the cattle sheds, and the pool which is famous for its Lichtenstein's Sandgrouse at dusk, is on the right of the track, at the end where it terminates adjacent to the cattle sheds. Sadly, I gather it is no longer always reliable, though it may still produce good birds as may the adjacent canal. To add, KM19 is not 19 kms from IBRC, only about 5kms, if even that. Similarly, km20 pools are only around 6kms maximum from IBRC, because IBRC itself is signposted at km15 of Route 90. A lot of people forget that.

KM20 Salt pans - continuing on the track (and NOT on 90) - these superb saltpans are a must for any visiting birders. The track from IBRC continues past KM19 cowsheds and then turns eastward through a plantation and up onto the expansive salt pans, which can be driven around. Bird species can change on a daily basis so worth checking regularly after IBRC / Eilat sites. You are very close to the Jordanian border here.

BIRDING SITES OFF ROUTE 90, STARTING FROM EILAT THROUGH ARAVA VALLEY TO DEAD SEA

AMRAM'S PILLARS KM20-KM21 - ONLY accessible heading southward on the dual-carriageway (or heading back to Eilat) - there is only a single signpost, then drive a rough track for a few km's in a westward direction, taking right-hand track where it splits and drive on to car park a few kms further on. In winter months there is a spot a few hundred metres back along the track from the end which is good for Sinai Rosefinch and other species, but this exact spot is not obvious until late afternoon when a number of birds come down to the favoured spot to feed. And this itself may depend on whether birders continue to put seed down fairly regularly.

KM26 EN AVRONA - this is signposted, lies to the east of 90, a good bit of desert scrub to investigate culminating in a set of palms.

KM29-KM30 BE-ER ORA - signposted kibbutz on western side of 90, worth driving around and checking out rocky area to the north of kibbutz, within a km of it. Held Basalt, Hooded, Finsch's Wheatear in Feb 2017.

KM43-KM44 KIBBUTZ SAMAR - signposted hippy-style kibbutz on western side of 90 that has held Black Bush Robin this year. There is a driveable track around its perimeter. Small horse paddock said to be good site for the robin, but ask IBRC staff where latest site for them is.

KM43-KM44 HAI-BAR NATURE RESERVE - signposted nature reserve and zoo that is signposted also between km43-44, but unlike Samar it lies to the east of 90. Black Bush Robins have bred here in past few years, best to pay to walk round the very small zoo as birds are around cattle sheds a lot, though no need to go round extensive drive-through grounds unless you like Ostriches and antelope.

KM51-KM52 YOTVATA PARK - this is a famous spot, it is signposted and has a great service station (ice-cream is infamous) and petrol station. But it is the Yotvata fields to the north-east that mainly attract birders in spring for larks, finches including Desert Finch, and raptors. Driveable tracks get you to these fields, and even without precise maps you will find them if you persevere. It is helpful to get as much information as possible as some tracks are very sandy so use your common sense. Steve Arlow's reports on cloudbirders.com are superb generally but he details the many tracks on a map. An old water works treatment pond lies to the south. Also, from the service station, if you drive to the north end as though you were re-joining 90, but instead take the tunnel under Route 90 and turn left, it brings you out on the north-western edge of Yotvata where there are cattle sheds and massive collections of doves away to your right, often including a few Namaqua Doves on the fence adjacent to the road. Just before driving to the barrier, you can cut across dry ground to the fence to view the doves, but beware one small section of barbed wire in the ground that could puncture tyres.

KM62-KM63 KIBBUTZ LOTAN - in years gone by many birders stayed here, though I gather it is past its birding best, a pale shadow of its former self. Still, some good birding can be had for those that stay here. Lies just east of Route 90. Wadi's and Kibbutz's Grofit and Ketura are also close and may hold good birds.

KM67 - the first of a series of low-lying, flat wadi's that lie adjacent to 90 but have no signposts, but are known good birding spots, varying from year to year. This area, close to the Jordanian border, has traditionally in some years been good for Hoopoe Lark. I think you park close to 90 and walk it. As with all these KM spots.

KM76 - a wadi that I think is on both sides of 90 which can be really good for larks, wheatears etc.

KM82 - another wadi on the western side that again can be good some years. Walk out for about a km or two.

KM87 - a wadi that seems to have been checked for the first time this year, and this Spring has held Dunn's Lark and a few others. Park alongside 90 and walk straight out for about a km towards Jordanian border.

KM89 - same as KM87, same birds same direction. Like above, a new site that has been quite productive this spring.

KM94 - this wadi is ONLY accessible on Israeli weekends (Friday/Saturday) as is used by Army as a firing range. I didn't know that so with hindsight, I was lucky not to get shot :)-. Park alongside 90, and walk out in westerly direction. Held Red-rumped Wheatear, Asian Desert Warbler, Desert Wheatear, and Hoopoe Lark in spring 2018, and this year holds 35 Dunn's Larks!!

KM152 Shezaf NR - as you head northward on 90, pull over 'immediately' after KM152 marker on eastern (Jordanian side) - look for a pair of gateposts about 100 metres in that direction, and that is the entrance for the driveable access track that takes you to a sort of car park a km further along. Bird the acacia scrub for Arabian Warbler.

KM155-KM156 Hazeva - Hazeva Field School is situated immediately off the signposted turn for Hazeva that then runs off 90 in an easterly direction. 'Ras Hashita' signs lead out to an area of acacia to the north-east of Hazeva called Wadi Gidrum, or carry straight on until you see signs for 'Shezaf NR' and follow this through greenhouses and plantations, and you get out into the desert -turn left for En Yahav (signposted) just before a raised mound and continue - eventually it runs out to a slightly different area of acacia and desert scrub to that at km152, and is equally good for Arabian Warbler about 5kms to the south of Hazeva. When you are at the best spot, it is marked by the presence of an old oil drum.

KM159-KM160 Iddan - also lying on the eastern side of 90, this signposted Kibbutz is only noteworthy for its water treatment pools that lie behind it and are not easy to find, but are good at 8am onwards for an hour for Spotted and Crowned Sandgrouse. As you drive through its entrance gates, turn right quickly, before a 2nd perimeter fence, the road then meanders to the left through warehouses and out at the far gates, and shortly after a left turn leads to the pools. There is also an area nearby that was previously good for Pharoah Eagle Owl (though stay on road if you do try as either side is a minefield). It seems less reliable now, in fact Shezaf NR seems to be more profitable at dusk.

KM186 Ne'ot Hakkikar - at this km marker is a turn for Ne'ot Hakkikar where you can pre-arrange a guide to hopefully see Nubian Nightjar. You need to arrange a guide as he will understand the intricate network of tracks, and also prearrange access with Israeli Army to be there at dusk.

KM187-KM188 Ashalim Reservoir (Navit Pools) - an unsignposted set of pools and reedbeds on the eastern side of the road between these km posts. Once you have safely managed to pull off, you can look down onto the expansive pools using a scope. Don't go down (not that you would) as it has landmines. Look for 2 trees close to each other, good views can be had from that spot, in the shade). Good for wildfowl, and possible Green-backed Swamphen creeping around the reedbed margin. The fascinatingly-industrial Dead Sea Salt Works with its multi-coloured pipework lie about a km further north.

KM205 Lot Reservoir (also called Heimar Res) - within a few metres of the km205 post is a faded sign for 'Lot Reservoir' which lies on the western side of 90. Drive up a short access track, and turn right along a riveted but drivable track with a reed bed on one side, and a small unproductive pool on the other side. As with Ashalim Res, you will hear Clamorous Reed Warbler, though seeing them is something else. Good for Sooty Falcon hunting bats at dusk (in summer months - approximately May to end of September).

KM207 Where 90 meets Route 31 towards Arad and Har Amasa - Route 90 has very few major turn-off options, but to visit a different birding habitat at Har Amasa head towards Arad on 31, then just past Arad head north on Route 80 for 10kms and 1 km before a series of bends, park beside the road and bird either side as good for Long-billed Pipit. I haven't done this area yet and I don't have km marker numbers, but there is plenty of literature giving more detail. Although you could spend half a day here, I think it is well worth diverting off Route 90.

KM208-KM210 Wadi Zohar / Zohar Stronghold - between km208-210 is a signposted turn to Neve Zohar down on the Dead Sea Coast, and directly opposite this eastward turn off 90, is a signposted driveable track for over a km all the way to 'Zohar Stronghold' (or fortress). In any wadi's you must be very mindful of flash floods, same in any mountainous area. You may see Fan-tailed Raven here, at its most southerly point.

KM244-KM245 En Gedi - En Gedi has several attractions over several km's off 90, such as its spa, but really the attractive walk and wadi is accessible between km244-245. You have to pay to go in & its a popular tourist spot, alternatively you can drive up to the field school to look over wadi David, which was once a famous spot for seeing Desert Tawny Owl or strix hadorami. Not really a key birding spot but a nice shaded area of bushes.

KM251-KM252 Wadi Salvadori - many people park up where possible along this stretch of 90, and clambour high up for Sinai Rosefinch and Striolated Bunting that favour small water pools. You really need precise information. And take plenty of water. It is not signposted.

KM258-KM259 - Palestinian border checkpoint and Metsoke Dragot - within twenty metres of the checkpoint is a tarmac road leading high in the mountains, to kibbutz Metsoke Dragot, lying about 5kms up hill. Good for Fan-tailed Ravens and possibly raptors including Bonelli's Eagle. Beware of the turn-offs / apparent parking spots that lie off this winding tarmac road, some are fine, but one or two are extremely deep and rutted and would likely damage a normal car.

KM282-KM283 Kalia Plantation - a turn off on the west side of 90 between these km markers leads into a superb plantation with tarmac road right through it. Between Feb and Sept (?) good for Pallid Scops Owl but beware you are in sensitive area (Israeli-controlled Palestinian West Bank). The track then leads out through the plantation to open onion fields called Kalia Fields, and the track re-joins 90 at km285.

KM285 - Kalia Fields - take the track on the southern side of 90 within metres of km285 marker. Drive on for about 1km and from Feb to late Sept is very good area for Egyptian Nightjar, which breed along Dead Sea nearby, but love the open onion fields here that they are attracted to. Again remember this is a sensitive area, and a police station lies on the corner of 90 about 2 kms away. Spotlighting in that direction would not be wise.

BIRDING SITES OFF ROUTE 12 FROM EILAT

Other than the immediate mountain stops as you climb out of Eilat, most of Route 12 runs alongside the Egyptian border fence, so stopping is not wise, other than at a few widely-known and recognised spots.

KM7, KM8, KM9, KM12 Mountain raptor Viewing spots - during spring and autumn, raptors pour over the Eilat mountains on favourable wind days, sometimes favouring lower spots, sometimes higher spots. Easy to pull over where it seems best.

KM? Se'ifim Plain - a twenty-minute drive from Eilat out along Route 12, you will see a signpost for this plain, that some years holds good numbers of larks and wheatears 2016 was excellent. But it seems to vary between dead and excellent from year to year. The access track is bumpy but driveable with care, though of course use your own discretion. I would recommend exiting the same way you entered, there is an exit track that leads back onto route 12 further north, and I just about made it my hire car.

KM66 - Ovda Plain (signposted for Sharahut) - Ovda plain is probably the most productive lark/wheatear area in Israel, and is widely referenced but access is not well-documented. You must ignore signs for the (old) Ovda Airport. So from Eilat, you continue on 12 past the old airport, until at km66 marker where you turn right (eastward) for 'Sharahut'. Continue along this road to the plain, you will note that this road runs down from km15-km8 before a dog-leg left turn leads uphill to Sharahut, or straight on to the old Ovda Airport. There is no need to go into the old Ovda Airport which is undoubtedly a more sensitive area. But indeed, as soon as you turn off 12 onto this road, between km15-km8 keep checking bushes alongside the left-hand side as you progress, and the extensive plains to the right. The famous '3 black hills' lie off to your right opposite km13, which is probably the best area to park up. You can walk around the 'black hills' and especially bird the great plain lying to the left of them. DO NOT drive the sandy tracks off the main road as I have seen cars easily get stuck, including a jeep. Instead, drive up and down the main road between Km15-km8 and park up beside road where you feel an area merits closer observation. Do check areas on the plain carefully, at first sight you may think there is nothing there. Indeed there maybe nothing there, or there may be something :)-. During summer months, any plains can be birdless.

Route 12 leads onto Route 40 at Ne'ot Hakkikar.

BIRDING SITES OFF ROUTE 40 IN NEGEV DESERT (between Ne'ot Samadar to Be'er Sheva)

KM58-KM60 Ha'Meishar Plain - this is also reputed to be the best lark area of Israel, but note it is only accessible on an Israeli weekend (Friday/Sat), on other days the army will quickly turf you off as it is a firing range. Directions are not obvious, but I park on the western side of 40 where there is small monument. The area is vast and you can walk around for hours and not connect, but try to obtain very-latest information as it can hold fabulous birds in winter months.

KM? Mitzpe Ramon - heading northwards, this is the next place you come to on 40, if you wish you can stop to access viewpoints but unlikely to be good for birds. Bit of a tourist trap but views of the crater in this general area are special. You may see the occasional Griffon or Egyptian Vulture around here or at Sde Boker.

KM? Sde Boker Fields & water treatment works, Ben Gurion Memorial Home, and Kibbutz - I am not sure of km marker numbers, but Sde Boker fields and water treatment works can be good for Desert Finch and Black-bellied Sandgrouse, but take great care pulling off the fast section of 40 here. Pull off about half a km before (south of) the petrol station. Ben Gurion's Memorial Home is signposted, and there is a great viewpoint nearby but cars are now prohibited from driving down into the superb wadi unfortunately. You have to pay to go on tours, or you can walk! There is much available literature about this. The kibbutz a little further north can be worth a drive around during migration, and in late September Levant Sparrowhawks sometimes roost.

Route 204 off 40 - Yeroham Reservoir - may be worth a detour for water-birds, access is easy but not advisable during Israeli weekend when it becomes very crowded.

Route 211 off 40 - Nizzana and Ezuz - these spots need no introduction, and there is plenty of literature about these sites, but the railway carriage close to Km7 on the road between the two villages is the widely used hide to scan for bustards and coursers though the whole area is good. Celia's at Ezuz has a good sandgrouse drinking pond. Heavy military presence here as borders Egypt, but they are used to birders.

Route 222 Revivim and HaBsor Reserve off 40 - Revivim is a little-known sandgrouse water works in the morning, area is good for Lanner though odds are still scarce. Turn into village and take first right to access the pools. For HaBsor NR (or HaBesor NR), continue on 222, and just after the turn to Urim (Road 234), there is a signposted sign close to Tse'elim for HaBesor NR. You quickly come to a reedbed and rope-bridge where you can stop and bird, but the track continues on alongside the river for several kms before joining the main road again, where you turn right and towards Urim.

Route 234 Urim-Reim - this area is infamous, but the whole stretch between Reim and Urim is excellent for raptors. Much better in winter when various tracks off into the extensive fields can be very tricky and muddy. Wintering birds include sandgrouse, Eastern Imperial Eagles, harriers, falcons, and often a small flock of Sociable Plovers, but be warned, without up-to-date information, they can be very hard to locate. It really is worth researching this superb area to get the best out of it. There are at least a dozen good access points.

So that is about it........... easy access information for Southern Israel. There are bound to be more areas, but hopefully this provides a reasonable amount of information for birders visiting for the first time.

It goes without saying, use your own common sense and discretion when going off-road, which car rental firms say you mustn't do! Be wary of soft-looking sand especially, if you are unsure get out and walk the surface before you drove onto it. Car mats may help you get out of sand (though it will likely ruin them). People will always help if you get stuck but be mindful you may have to walk to get help. And muddy tracks at Urim can create great problems. Be wary of pending heavy rain in the mountainous areas, and especially if birding in wadis where people have died due to flash-floods. Perhaps more than anything, take great care pulling off main roads at sites, especially the dual-carriageways such as Route 90, you may not be able to stop safely where you want where places are not signposted, due to speeding and close traffic, but remember there is no harm in pulling off when you can safely do so, and doubling back again. I very often had to do this.

Safety first, birding second!


The Birding - When to go? Ebird month-to-month species tool

I also came across this excellent tool on Ebird - a month-to-month ALL SPECIES chart for the state of 'Hadarom', which is one of the 6 states that make up Israel, with Hadarom being the most southerly and including the Negev, Arava Valley, and Eilat area.

https://ebird.org/israel/barchart?by...&emo=12&r=IL-D

You can change the parameters - location can be drilled down to more specific locations (tick 'hotspots' tool and select continue), such as Amram's Pillars for example. The list of hotspots includes every hotspot in the area. If you select the little blue symbol you see the map which can be drilled down too.

I changed parameters for the above to show all recorded sightings for past 20 years (the normal setting looks at all sightings from 1900-present).

Its really useful to plan a trip for certain species.


Idiots guide to driving in Israel

Having been adversely affected and often confused by driving specifics of Israel, I thought I would try and write an idiots guide. Probably partly applies elsewhere too. True at February 2020, but of course things can change.

CAR HIRE - INITIAL PICK-UP

If you are at Tel Aviv International Airport, after you collect your baggage and clear customs take the escalator up to the 1st floor where the car hire companies are situated, on the left. There are small signs but it is not obvious.

FAMILIARISE

After signing all paperwork (I advise taking out their full Comp but its your choice) and being told where to get your car (either a pick up to off-site or if Hertz for eg on site and a 2 minute walk to car park), familiarise yourself - look at gears, mirrors, lights, petrol release handle, what side petrol cap is on etc. Ascertain if it is diesel, or unleaded (95 or 98 in Israel), Photograph any scratches. Take your time. Allow 20 minutes. This I would advise is really important. Obviously, ascertain if the car is manual or automatic and familiarise yourself with settings.

EXITING TEL AVIV AIRPORT

If your car is at the airport (Hertz for eg) you leave the car hire car park level, push the button at the first barrier and it gives you a ticket, go through that barrier, which you then insert at the next barrier a few hundred metres further on, which releases you. A strange system but it works well.

Then, if heading for Eilat (or the South), follow signs for Jerusalem 'until' you see signs for Route 6 'Be'er Sheva' (Beer Sheba). Then its fairly straightforward southward, but have a good street-map in case you cannot get internet or do not have SATNAV. Near Be'er Sheba, you can go onto Route 31 for 'Dead Sea' and 'Arad', then where that road (31) ends, join 90 all the way down to Eilat.

BUYING PETROL IN ISRAEL

Paying by cash is easiest – go in and say you want to 'fill up', they usually understand that, or do a hand signal to indicate to fill. Hand over the cash, and they give you back what you have not used. Make sure you count what you give them. I found that a few petrol stations 'only accept cash', but most will accept card payment.

If you want to pay with a foreign credit card there may be a 200-250 NIS limit which may not fill your tank. A full tank of an average car will be over 400 shekels, so in light of the 200-250 shekel limit at Israeli gas stations with a foreign credit card, I suggest keeping to the half a tank rule. Once you are under half a tank of gas, fill up. The 200-250 limit will cover this (unless you are driving a mini-van or larger vehicle or a vehicle that runs on Diesel fuel which is more expensive). Be wary on long journeys, try and keep you tank half-full.

If you try and use your credit card without asking the attendant, or if it is just a self-service station out of hours (pay at pump only), then it is complicated because there are different systems and all instructions are in Hebrew.

Basically, when you put your credit card in the pump, the pump asks for your ‘Teudat Zehut’. Only Israelis have this ID. You would have to get a bypass number from the attendant. Then sometimes it asks for your license plate (again in Hebrew), though there is a bypass for that part too.

But - self-serve petrol stations work slightly differently from each other. I have (with the help of others) put in my card, then put in 123456789, or 1111111, or 9999999 for my "ID" number and then my credit card PIN number, then fuelled. There is no rhyme or reason. So it is difficult if it is a self-service station only (generally out of hours). But it may be worth trying these codes if you are desperate for petrol and it is late, where there is no petrol attendant.

So it is easier to fill up in normal day-time hours, if you can do.

So the long and short of it is the easy way to do this is to go into the cashier, give them cash or your credit card and say you want a fill, they will release the pump so you can fill, then go back in and they will give you change and a receipt, or will then run your card and give you a receipt.

Just ask, someone will help you.

ALARM PIN CODE

All Israeli cars have a 4 digit security pin code followed by * which must be punched in each time you start. Take a mobile phone photograph of it when you collect the car, in case you forget. Once you have input the code plus *, 2 clear beeps follow if it is ok to now turn ignition and away you go. If there are 4 beeps the system is confused and your engine will not start.

This has happened to me when I have stop-started again and again when I have birded a reservoir via a perimeter road, or in the desert.

'If' you find you cannot restart don't panic. It will seem like the engine is dead. Take the ignition key out and leave it for a time period of 15 minutes (in some cars), for system to reset. There may be a symbol on your dashboard telling you it is resetting, and thus when it has reset, but I did not have one on my car so it was just guess work, but it always reset in around 15 minutes. Although this makes you anxious, you must leave everything alone and it does need time to reset.

DRIVING AUTOMATICS

If you have an automatic, get used to driving with just your right foot to operate both pedals, and place your left foot back towards your seat. Driving automatics for the first time comes as a culture shock, but fundamentally you only use your right foot to drive, to use the accelerator and break. Perhaps this is stating the obvious.

There are 4 modes...........Neutral, Park, Reverse, and Drive. When you stop, even momentarily to look at a bird, always stop in P mode. Habitually!!!

BEEPERS

Many hire cars in Israel are pre-set to have beeping sounds to alert you if you are swaying slightly across a lane. Although initially annoying, these actually help the birder whose eyes are often not where they should be! Of course you should keep your eyes on the road, but in effect its a bit like auto-pilot as it corrects you and ensures you stay central. That's NOT to say you should rely on them and take your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road. But tolerate them and get used to them. They may save your life. There are settings to turn them off if you really hate them, but as many of the roads wind through mountains, or are long and straight and monotonous, I advise people to be grateful for them.

SPEEDING

Beware, it is easy to see along straight roads such as Route 90 down to Eilat and go beyond the speed limit, but there are patrol cars that may catch you out.

That's really it. Hope it helps those who have not been before.
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